Nome is one of those small towns that feel a lot bigger than its size. Perhaps it’s the wide open skies and views of the Bering Sea. Or maybe it’s because it’s so easy to get a view of it from above. Nome isn’t connected to the Alaskan Highway system; if you’re coming in from out of town, you’ll arrive by air, by sea, or by dog sled (with or without the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race).
Located on the Seward Peninsula in Northwest Alaska, Nome hardly fills its 20 square miles with the estimated 3,700 residents. But that doesn’t mean everyone has a huge plot of land to look after. There are spacious apartments alongside large and small single-family homes.
Following the initial gold rush in 1898, Nome was officially incorporated in 1901. And, although the number of residents may seem small, it was once the most populated town in Alaska. As a growing rural community, homes have been slowly built since gold was discovered. However, fires and storms destroyed most of the early builds.
Nome has a public elementary school and a combined junior and senior high school serving families with children throughout the incorporated area. Both schools offer hot breakfasts as well as lunches and buses bring children to and from school. Athletics and extramural activities are available, and students travel as far afield as Anchorage to compete against their peers.
As both a tourist destination and a stopping point for more travelers to more remote areas of Alaska and the Russian Far East, Nome’s economy extends beyond community services and shipping. There are several restaurants and bars where locals and tourists enjoy each other’s company and learn about each other’s cultures.
But, the one thing you should know before heading to Nome is that the story depicted in the film, The Fourth Kind, is pure speculation. No matter what the UFO enthusiasts would have you believe, Nome isn’t a hot bed for alien abductions but a peaceful, thriving Alaskan community situated one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world.
Image: By ra64 from nome, usa - Nome from the west, CC BY-SA 2.0